Its 1991, I am 18, young and impressionable. My sweet sister-in-law Rubina takes me to a women's charity event being held at the elegant Mount Soche hotel in Blantyre, Malawi. The positive energy being radiated from the amazing role models in the room wraps me around like a warm blanket. I am mesmerized by these talented leaders, speaking and inspiring others. The force of good being infinitely amplified. I am in awe of the power of sisterhood to make a positive impact.
I am 20, soaking up the experiences life has to offer. I reach out to the women in my birth city to convene in Lilongwe, Malawi so that we can discuss ways to give back philanthropically to alleviate the poverty engulfing this developing country. I vividly recall that very first meeting where our family friend Roxana opened up her home, and about 15 women eagerly named our group "The Ladies Committee" (still marvel at this title). The team gets to work! The whole community is excited about our first event; over 500 people show up. The proceeds make an impact at the local children's hospital. I am once again blown away by the contagious power of sisterhood to make a positive impact.
I am 33, energized by motherhood. I propose the need for a philanthropic and personal development woman's group in Chicago and together with a dedicated team, we launch a nonprofit organization, Muslim Women's Alliance. I stand on the stage at our sold-out inaugural event looking out at a sea of nurturing faces, with warm smiles, brilliant ideas, motivating energy and powerful minds. Over time, this beautiful force replicates the energy by continually elevating new leaders to sustain incredible impact. And so the circle of good keeps growing eternally. I am once again moved by the power of sisterhood to make a positive impact not only on each other, but the world around us.
I am in my 40s now, its International Women's Day #IWD2016, I am still learning everyday and still in awe of the power of sisterhood ignited by my tribe of womankind. Still amazed by the power of yes that propels women to listen, lean in and lead in meaningful ways. Whether I am standing in a circle with women of diverse cultural backgrounds in Utah promoting world peace, or organizing 250 women to stand in solidarity linking arms with women from war torn countries, or in a room of women entrepreneurs networking to support each other in Chicago, or getting physically fit to run for a cause with a team of women, or just sitting at the kitchen table with my always-there-for-me ma & mom (my mother & mother-in-law respectively), my wise sister, loving aunts, fun cousins, thoughtful friends...when women gather, the strong force of inspiration is always humming a sweet melody. A tune that keeps pushing me to be the best woman that I can be.
Whether we say it out loud or in our minds, as women we have a strong chant that unites us. We can shout these words out from mountaintops or whisper this in quiet desperate times when we know we are just one woman away from feeling supported. We intrinsically sense our compelling mantra that, "As women we form a strong link of sisterhood. We are here to listen & lean in to each other always elevating one another to be the best that we can be. We are here to stand in solidarity with all women so that together we can make a positive impact on our beautiful mother earth."
As a woman, I am who I am because of all the inspiring role models who continue to pave the way. I am excited for my three young daughters to go through this exhilarating journey as well. I am deeply honored to be part of the global tribe of women that collectively sways in a tenacious and dynamic wave of influential energy!